Cheating on the Met in Richmond, Virginia
You’ve been to the Louvre, the Tate, the Getty, the Prado, and, God knows, the MoMA, but have you ever checked out the art scene in Virginia? Unlike the Met, you can canvas the entire Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (vmfa.state.va.us)—whose offerings include the largest display of Fabergé outside Russia and, starting February 19, works from Pablo Picasso’s personal collection—in an afternoon, with time left for a hearty bowl of Brunswick stew in the café. Fresh off a $150 million renovation by London architect Rick Mather, the museum is ready for its art-world close-up, with flowing, light-filled galleries and a beaconlike illuminated tower. Another standout show this season: the largest-ever U.S. exhibition of Virginia-born photographer Sally Mann (starting November 13). Overnight a few blocks away at Maury Place B&B, close to Carytown, Richmond’s burgeoning restaurant district (from $159; mauryplace.com).
Listening to Baroque Opera in Vienna
Minted by superstar directors (Gustav Mahler), backed by musicians from the world’s most brilliant orchestra (the Vienna Philharmonic), and performing a massive annual repertoire of 50 operas, the Vienna State Opera easily holds its own on the classical scene. But for years, brain-bending Baroque (think marathon staccato coloratura) was banned—until this winter. Under fresh leadership, the opera is reintroducing dramatic eighteenth-century story lines, sometimes on original instruments. Handel’s Alcina—packed with three sopranos and countless arias—debuts in November. Spend nights at Hotel Altstadt (from $165; altstadt.at), a high-design townhouse where no two rooms are alike.